Children Working on the Street

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Children Working on the Street

  • Yoshie NOGUCHI,
  • Senior legal officer, IPEC


  • Children “working” on the street
  • General overview on child labour
  • What is child labour (CL), and its worst forms (WFCL)?
  • Challenges/lessons in addressing CL and WFCL on the street
  • Data collection: CL on the street
  • Eliminating WFCL by 2016 !

Children “Working” on the street

  • Economic activities
    • selling small objects,
    • shoe-shining,
    • portering
  • Sexual exploitation (prostitution)
  • Illicit activities
    • scavenging,
    • begging
  • Criminal acts
    • drug dealing,
    • pick-pocketing

Child labour statistics

ILO Global Report 2010

  • Child labour continues to decline, [3% decline between 2004-2008] but more modestly than previously
  • [10% decline between 2000-2004]
  • On present trends, the goal of eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016 will not be reached

Different trends: girls and boys

  • Fewer girls are now in child labour.
    • declined by 15%.
  • Worrying trend for boys
    • Increase by 20% among older boys (15-17) in hazardous work

Regional trends

  • Asia and Pacific – significant reduction down to 96m (14.8 % of children)
  • Latin America and Caribbean – slight reduction down to 10m (9%)
  • Sub Saharan Africa – further increase to 58m (28.4%)
  • No separate figure for Europe or developed countries – lack of surveys

CRC and child labour

  • The right to be protected from economic exploitation (§32) = the protection from child labour (ILS)
  • The right to education, health …
  • Non-discrimination
  • Two issues under the Op Protocols (sexual exploitation, armed conflict) = Worst Forms of Child Labour

What is Child Labour?

  • Child labour to be eliminated =
  • Worst Forms of Child Labour (C182) and
  • Work done by a child below the minimum age for that kind of work (specified by national law, in line with C138 and CRC article 32(2))
  • See: UN SG Report to GA 2009 [A/64/127]

What is child labour?

  • Work that is NOT hazardous or other WFCL
  • Hazardous work or other WFCL
  • Children above the minimum age but below 18y
  • 4
  • 2
  • Children below the minimum working age
  • 3
  • 1
  • 18y
  • 14/15/16

Worst Forms of Child Labour

  • Children in slavery, forced or compulsory labour, child trafficking
  • Children used in prostitution and pornography
  • Children used in illicit activities
  • Children in hazardous work
  • See : ILO C182, Article 3

C 182: coverage

  • All sectors of economic activity without any exception
  • Girls and boys under 18 years
  • Special attention for most vulnerable e.g. minorities, girls, very young, and on the street !
  • Worst forms of child labour as urgent priority target for action

Child labour and its worst forms on the street

  • Forced labour, including in begging, child trafficking
  • Sexual exploitation
  • The use of children in illicit activities or crime (e.g. drugs)
  • hazardous work = “work likely to jeopardize/harm a child’s health, safety or morals”

Challenges in addressing child labour on the street

  • Outside the scope of “child labour” legislation - absence of an employer, or formal relation - not considered in the “hazardous work” list
  • The children may be perceived as delinquents rather than victims of WFCL
  • Interest in / access to education ?
  • “Decent Work” prospect for these children ?
  • Social protection measures may focus adults or families: e.g. Cash Transfer, income support
  • Maybe lacking ID, birth certificate, legal status...

Some good practice examples

  • Listing “street vending” among the hazardous work and prohibit for children (Lebanon)
  • Comprehensive rehabilitation for girls on the street and/or at risk of sexual exploitation (Russian Federation)
  • Mobile schools: facilitating the transition from street to school (Romania)
  • Mobilizing public action by raising awareness among teachers and students (Paraguay) – SCREAM (Supporting Children’s Rights through Education, the Arts and the Media) methods

Some lessons learned

  • Clearly define “what is not acceptable” in labour, criminal, or children’s rights or other laws;
  • Consider and address difficulties of enforcement
  • Raise awareness among stakeholders of the specific risks [of working street girls]; thus help raise the issue higher on the political agenda
  • Gradually prepare the children for social / family integration
  • Involve government entities from the beginning, giving them ownership
  • Mobilize children and young people; conveying the message to the public (families, community and institutions) and also the business community
  • Respect and adapt to the socio-economic and cultural characteristics of each country and each community

Child labour statistics

  • SIMPOC* (Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour) help countries in :
  • household-based surveys,
  • establishment-based surveys,
  • baseline surveys, and
  • rapid assessments
  • [* ]

Child labour statistics (2)

  • Need to develop methodologies
  • Need to define concepts for statistical operation < legal definitions
  • Resolution by the 18th International Conference of Labour Statisticians concerning statistics of child labour (ICLS Resolution) - 2008

Challenges in collecting data on child labour on the street

  • Household-based surveys can gather information only on children living with their family and working on the street
  • Establishment-based surveys may not cover any child labour on the street
  • Children’s accessibility, availability and interest in the data collection

Rapid Assessment

  • Methodology jointly developed by ILO and UNICEF
  • Especially useful for some WFCL
  • Qualitative information obtained through a rapid assessment will apply with certainty only to the limited sample population and context
  • [See: manuals available on SIMPOC website]

Capture-Recapture method

  • See the UCW example (Study on child beggars in Dakar)
  • Previously used (2002 Global Report on Child Labour) in estimating the scale of the WFCL other than hazardous work – a huge challenge for us all in CL statistics

Ethical considerations in child labour data collection

  • The best interest of the child
  • Pre-research issues
  • Assess the safety risk to the child of participating in the survey (and to the researchers): especially for children exploited in / by organize crime
  • Informed consent for all interviews; in a child-sensitive way; with the right to say “No” at any time

Ethical considerations in child labour data collection (2)

  • Issues during research
  • Language and logic: to avoid jargon and adapted to each child (age, sex, culture…)
  • Trust: to be built patiently on relationship
  • Conditions of listening: carefully, with positive and neutral expression
  • Pay and promises: consider carefully
  • Post –research issues
  • Right to privacy / sharing info & outcome

Accelerating action against child labour

  • an increased global effort to tackle child labour and
  • enhanced Government commitment
  • reach out to children at special risk: e.g. on the street !

Further measures

  • international cooperation
  • social dialogue and cooperation = Partnership with business and trade unions
  • advocacy and mobilisation
  • decent work for youth/adults

The Global Action Plan

  • Eliminating the worst forms of child labour by 2016 !
    • Roadmap 2010 (The Hague)
    • Attention: children on the street

Thank you for your attention !

  • International Programme on the
  • Elimination of Child Labour
  • 4, Route des Morillons
  • CH-1211 Geneva 22
  • Switzerland
  • Tel.: (+41 - 22) 799 81 81
  • Fax: (+41 - 22) 799 87 71
  • E-mail:
  • Child labour website:

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